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What does the concept of ad viewability mean in the context of strategy? And what makes it more significant than above-the-fold targeting? Viewability is more important in digital marketing than ever before. But why? A large percentage of marketers still judge the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns by tracking the cost per thousand and click-through rates. Though this may work for some, unfortunately, the results of such an analysis are easy to skew. Various forms of digital advertising are beginning to see an increase in fraud, thanks to bots.

Lately, many scientific studies agree that "your ad being seen" is more important than your ad getting clicked. The simple reasoning behind this is that an advertisement is useless unless it can be seen. With this in mind, the concept of ad viewability continues to gain momentum within the tech industry.

What Is Ad Viewability?

Viewability is a term that describes the online advertising metric marketers use to measure impressions visible on users' screens. Each impression counted through viewability is known as a "viewed impression," which differentiates it from other impressions on a screen in or out-of-view.

According to the Media Rating Council, a viewed impression is classified as an advertisement that has 50 percent of its pixels seen for a minimum of one second.


Subsequently, if a webpage loads with an advertisement at the bottom of the screen and the user fails to scroll down, this impression is not be deemed viewable. The fact that viewability is still a new metric form for most marketers to consider means that there is room for maneuverability in the definition. As the concept continues to develop, the manner in which people perceive viewability now may not be the same as in the future. 

The Benefits of Ad Viewability

Ad viewability holds particular importance for both advertisers and publishers. Advertisers can use viewability to ensure they have an optimum amount of data at their disposal. This allows them to assess which ads appear most on users' screens and encourage the most interaction. When advertisers decide where to place an ad and determine its size, using viewability as a measurable metric can simplify optimization. At the same time, advertisers can possibly reduce costs by working with platforms that charge expressly for viewable impressions, a trend that is likely to appear in the future.

From a publisher's perspective, viewability provides a helpful measurement that allows them to analyze the true value of their inventory. The more publishers can understand which types of impressions get the best viewability rates, the more they can adjust their strategy to avoid inventory with low viewability rates. 

further benefit of viewability is that it ensures human views are being tracked - not bot impressions. The idea is that users who see the ads are actually capable of interacting with the impressions given to them and indicating a genuine view. Because most people are not likely to interact with an ad for less than a single second, many advertisers are currently calling for longer display times and networks are offering longer guarantees, particularly for expensive video advertisements.


Is Ad Viewability Important?

In the current early stages of viewability's conceptual development, it is worth noting that it should be used to compliment other metrics, and ultimately support the efforts of online marketers as they create comprehensive campaign strategies.

But ideally, all businesses will aim to push their viewability levels as close to 100 percent as possible, and there are numerous ways companies can actively enhance their viewability in order to achieve this.  Businesses can ensure they are seen online by selecting reputable networks for advertising or utilizing software capable of tracking impression viewability. 

The Future of Viewability

At present, the concept of viewability in advertising and online marketing is still relatively young, but most experts agree that it will continue to develop as a core focus within the advertisement tech industry. This metric will develop further as we progress into the future, making it easier for publishers and marketers alike to improve their viewability and enhance their chances of receiving attention from target markets. 

Viewability may never be the one and only metric to consider when it comes to building a substantial online presence, but for now, it seems that it may be more important than above-the-fold targeting.

Note: This article was originally published September 10, 2015 by ClickZ.

Topics: Online Advertising, display advertising, Ad Viewability, above the fold targeting

Tim Nichols

Written by Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a digital media buying agency with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Minneapolis, MN, Milwaukee, WI and SouthWest Florida.

Tim Nichols is also a contributing author on Forbes.com.

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